CDC director approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5-11

FILE - In this March 19, 2021, file photo Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to examine the FY 2022 budget request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Washington. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP, File) (Greg Nash, The Hill)

MIAMI – Federal authorities are allowing minors age 5 and older to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signed off on the expanded access on Thursday night.

“We have watched as the education gaps that exist in this country have widened, as this virus has disproportionately impacted racial and ethnic minority communities,” Walensky said. “Pediatric vaccination has the power to help us change all of that”

Dr. Lee Beers, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, released a statement in support before CDC advisers voted 14-0 in favor of Walensky’s approval of the vaccine for the 5-11 age group.

“Children need and deserve protection from COVID-19,” Beers wrote.

Experts with the CDC and the FDA agree COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The FDA issued emergency authorization for the 5-11 age group on Oct. 29.

The CDC advisers agreed the vaccine provides more benefits than risks. Although fewer children have been infected than adults, minors can spread the virus and some can get seriously sick.

Recipients may experience, pain, redness, and swelling on the arm where they received the vaccine. Some also experience tiredness, a headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea.

The symptoms usually last for a few days and some recipients have no side effects, according to the CDC.

There have been rare reports of teens diagnosed with inflammation of the heart wall and swelling of the membrane surrounding the heart, after the second dose, according to the CDC.

Dr. Sara Oliver an epidemic intelligence service officer with CDC’s division of viral diseases said children aged 5 to 11 did not experience heart inflammation during clinical trials.

“It’s a rare event but most common in males 12 to 29 years of age,” Oliver said.

The White House COVID-19 response team estimates the bulk of the vaccines will be available by next week.

For more information about how to find a provider near you, search this database, or text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233.

CVS announced they will begin vaccinating children 5 and up starting on Sunday.

6 p.m. report

As of Tuesday afternoon, minors age 5 and older were closer to being able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in South Florida.

5 p.m. report

CDC advisers voted 14-0 in favor of the approval for the 5-11 age group.

4 p.m. report

While as of Tuesday, kids 12 years and older are able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the FDA authorized its use for children ages 5 to 11 on Oct. 29.

About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.